Taking Root: New Affiliates Looks To Repurpose Architectural Mockups Into A Community Garden

New Affiliates rendering of testbeds community garden

The idea of reutilizing architectural mockups into stand-alone structures is taking root in a community garden in the Edgemere section of Queens, NY. And for the architects at the Manhattan-based New Affiliates architecture firm it’s an idea that should grow.

“These large-scale mockups represent enormous financial and labor investment from the developer,” establishes architect Ivi Diamantopoulou and business partner, Jaffer Kolb of New Affiliates. “They’re highly efficient performance structures built to last. But in the grand scheme of things, in the building industry, they go unnoticed.”

“We literally salvaged it as it was on the way to the dumpster,” notes Diamantopoulou. At the same time, Kolb’s sister mentioned needing a garden shed. The seed was planted.

The duo invited Sam Stewart-Halevy, a historian who specializes in reuse within architecture (and who also studied with the two at Princeton’s Master Architecture program) to join their effort, which they’ve named Testbeds.

“This can transform not just how gardens will look, but how they will be run,” says Stewart-Halevy. “We’re making not just sheds, but places to talk and gather.”
The effort received heartfelt approval from the city parks department. “We created a dozen placeholder designs,” stresses Kolb.

A window structure is reimagined as a greenhouse by New Affiliates

They decided Edgemere, a neighborhood still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, would be their pilot project. The local gardeners, who had many opinions on the project, are very enthusiastic about the final plan. Now all they need is money to transport and place the structures. The trio is hoping someone in the city’s building and development community will sponsor the $60,000 effort.

“With all that’s going on in the world, in so many ways,” shares Diamantopoulou, “to be fighting for this project as collective space is so important.”

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